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March 17, 2004
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The Use of Muscle Testing in Feng Shui
I often receive email questions when someone hears from a spouse, friend, or co-worker that something about their home or office is "bad" feng shui and ought to be corrected. Since the well-meaning person offering this advice (usually unsolicited) often doesn't know any more than that, the person on the receiving end of these dire pronouncements writes to me for confirmation or clarification. Today's Q+A, below, is a good example of this.
Usually there is some good reason behind these various beliefs, but just as often whether or not the situation needs to be corrected depends on the specific context. One of the most-often overlooked rules of feng shui is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This means that you shouldn't run around changing everything just for the sake of change. Focus your feng shui efforts where they will do the most good.
As most of you probably are aware, sharp angles -- such as the corner of a wall that juts into the room, or the sharp edge of a cabinet or bookcase -- create "secret arrows" of sha chi (negative energy) that can have a harmful effect on anything directly in front of them. If your desk, bed, couch, stove, or dining table is attacked by secret arrows, your energy and perhaps your health and/or finances are likely to suffer. However, the law of proximity also applies; if it's on the other side of the room, chances are you won't have to worry about it. If it's right next to you, it's probably a problem.
So, if something in your environment offers the potential for harmful chi, but you don't know whether or not it needs to be corrected, what do you do? Muscle testing is a good way to discover how the features and furnishings of a space are affecting you. Here's a fun way to try it out*:
Find a spot in your house or apartment where you can stand with your back against a flat wall, with nothing pointing at you or hanging over you. Now, find another spot in your house that has a sharp angle or point -- such as a corner wall that sticks out into the room, or the sharp corner of a bookcase or countertop.
1) First, stand a few inches away from the flat wall, facing into the room. Focus your attention on how the wall behind you protects you. Lean back, and feel how it supports you.
2) Standing a few inches away from the wall, hold one of your arms straight out to the side at shoulder height. Have your friend push your arm down with gentle but steady pressure, while you resist the movement. Notice how much pressure is being asserted and resisted.
3) Now, move to the other spot, and stand with your back to the point or angle. Hold out your arm again, and have your friend try to push it down while you resist the movement.
It was probably harder for you to resist the downward pressure this time. That’s the effect of sha chi from the corner weakening your personal chi.
If you live alone, you can do muscle testing yourself by making a circle with the thumb and middle finger of one hand (like the American "okay" sign, but using the middle finger rather than the index finger). Using the thumb of your other hand, try to pull the circle open at the same time that you resist. When your chi is weakend by secret arrows, it will be easier to do this. Muscle testing on yourself is tricky because you need to keep the amount of resistence consistent each time, and the results can be very subjective. The more you practice at it, the better you will get at noticing the subtle differences.
To protect yourself from secret arrows, you want to place some kind of buffer between it and you. This could be a large potted plant, a length of decorative fabric, or a faceted crystal ball hung from the ceiling. Use muscle testing before and after the change to make sure it will be effective.
The uses of muscle testing in feng shui are virtually unlimited, and it can be applied to just about any decision, such as which painting to hang in a power spot, or which color curtains will be best in the living room. If you practice with the self-testing method, you can test just about anything just about anywhere.
* Muscle testing exercise excerpted from Fast Feng Shui: 9 Simple Principles for Transforming Your Life by Energizing Your Home
Feng Shui Q+A
(Most questions will have been edited for clarity and length, and any identifying details have been changed. Please note that due to the high volume of email I receive, it is no longer possible for me to respond to every question personally. I still welcome your questions, and if I cannot provide a personal response I will try to address your issue in a future Q+A column.)
Q: My wife tells me that I should get rid of all my books in the study and remove the book racks because it brings bad Feng Shui. Is there a particular 'good' feng shui method of keeping books in a rack? Should they be covered as in a cabinet rather than open shelves? Should they be all stacked vertically without any kept horizontally?
A: Your wife is correct that books can have a disruptive influence (all those ideas! all that information!) in the wrong place. For example, it is not a good idea to have lots of books in the bedroom, as this can overstimulate the mind and make it difficult to get a good night's sleep.
However, to say that books and book shelves ahave "bad feng shui" is not necessarily true.
A study is a very good place for books; it is a room designed and devoted to studying, right? So the books there are not a problem.
And while the edges of bookshelves can be a source of "sha chi," this depends on the style of the bookcase and how close it is to you. Cabinet style bookcases are less likely to cause sha chi, but that's not enough reason to go to the trouble and expense of getting new bookcases.
How do you feel in your study? Are you able to concentrate well, do you have any headaches, is your mood calm and relaxed? If you feel good in there and enjoy the space, probably the feng shui is good. If you have to fight with yourself to stick it out and get your work done, probably the feng shui is bad. And that may be from any number of things, not just the bookcases.
BTW: It doesn't make any difference whether the books are vertical or horizontal, so keep them whichever way you want.
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